Amazon starting deliveries with Amazon-branded vans

Dave Clark, Amazon's senior vice president of worldwide operations, speaks in front of Amazon branded van during June 27, 2018 news conference in Seattle announcing Amazon.com's new program to help entrepreneurs build businesses delivering Amazon packages, including $1 million to fund startup costs for military veterans

LINDSEY WASSON / REUTERS

SEATTLE -- Your Amazon packages, which usually show up in a UPS truck, an unmarked vehicle or in the hands of a mail carrier, may soon be delivered from an Amazon van. The online retailer, wanting more control over how its packages are delivered, rolled out a program Thursday that lets entrepreneurs around the country launch businesses that deliver Amazon packages.

They'll be able to lease blue vans with the Amazon logo stamped on it, buy Amazon uniforms for drivers and get support from Amazon to grow their businesses. In return, Amazon gets more ways to ship its packages to shoppers without having to rely on UPS, FedEx and other package delivery services.

With these vans on the road, Amazon said, more shoppers would be able to track their packages on a map, contact the driver or change where a package is left -- all of which it can't do if the package is in the back of UPS or FedEx truck.

Amazon has beefed up its delivery network in other ways: It has a fleet of cargo planes it calls "Prime Air," announced last year that it was building an air cargo hub in Kentucky, and pays people as much as $25 an hour to deliver packages with their cars through Amazon Flex.

Recently, the company has come under fire from President Trump, who tweeted that Amazon should pay the U.S. Postal Service more for shipping its packages.

In April, Mr. Trump tweeted, "I am right about Amazon costing the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy. Amazon should pay these costs (plus) and not have them bourne [sic] by the American Taxpayer. Many billions of dollars. P.O. leaders don't have a clue (or do they?)!"

In fact, packages and shipping have been an area of growth for the Postal Service that has offset the decline in volume of letter and magazine delivery. USPS said in its annual report last year that its revenue growth "is driven entirely by increases in shipping and packages." It loses money every year largely because of pension and health care costs, and not, as the president claimed, because Amazon is using USPS as its "delivery boy."

Dave Clark, Amazon's senior vice president of worldwide operations, said the new program isn't a response to the president, but a way to make sure the company can deliver its growing number of orders. "This is really about meeting growth for our future," Clark said.

Through the program, Amazon said it can cost as little as $10,000 for someone to start the delivery business. They don't have to lease the Amazon blue vans, but if they do, those vehicles can only be used to deliver Amazon packages, the company said. The entrepreneur will be responsible for hiring delivery people, and Amazon would be the customer, paying the business to pick up packages from its 75 delivery centers around the country and delivering them to shopper's doorsteps. An Amazon representative declined to give details on how much it will pay for the deliveries.

One man who was part of Amazon's test of the program told reporters that the number of packages Amazon needs to be delivered keeps his business busy.

"We don't have to go make sales speeches," said Olaoluwa Abimbola, who has hired 40 workers in five months. "There's constant work, every day. All we have to do is show up."